Augmentation of fear extinction by theta-burst transcranial magnetic stimulation of the prefrontal cortex in humans.

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Date: March-April 2021
From: Journal of Psychiatry and Neuroscience(Vol. 46, Issue 2)
Publisher: CMA Impact Inc.
Document Type: Report
Length: 7,029 words
Lexile Measure: 1670L

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Abstract :

Background: Fear extinction alone does not erase the original fear memory. Interventions that enhance extinction can be beneficial for the treatment of fear-related disorders. Repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation has been shown to improve memory performance. The present study examined the effects of intermittent theta-burst stimulation (iTBS) on fear extinction and the return of fear memory in humans. Methods: Ninety-one young healthy volunteers underwent 3 experiments using a randomized controlled experimental design. Participants first acquired fear conditioning, after which they received 30 Hz iTBS before and after extinction training. The iTBS was applied to 1 of 2 targets: the left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (dlPFC) and the vertex (control). Fear responses were measured 24 hours later and 1 month later. Results: During the spontaneous recovery and reinstatement tests, iTBS of the left dlPFC before and after extinction significantly reduced fear response, whereas iTBS of the vertex had no effect on fear memory performance. This combined approach had a relatively long-lasting effect (i.e., at least 1 month). Limitations: We did not explore the effect of iTBS of the dlPFC on the expression of fear without extinction training. The neural mechanisms of iTBS with fear extinction to inhibit the fear response are unclear. Our results are preliminary and should be interpreted with caution. Conclusion: The present results showed that 30 Hz iTBS of the left dlPFC enhanced retention of fear extinction. Our study introduces a new intervention for fear memory and suggests that the left dlPFC may be a treatment target for fear-related disorders.

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Gale Document Number: GALE|A659642861